£10.5 million paid by RWE, Hornsea One, UKPN for August blackout

Three companies have paid a total of £10.5 million into Ofgem’s redress fund after the regulator found failings during the blackout on 9 August.

The regulator found that two large power stations, Hornsea One (co-owned by Orsted) and Little Barford (operated by RWE) did not remain connected after the lightning strike. Each has agreed to make a voluntary payment of £4.5 million.

During the event Ofgem distribution network operators disconnected and reconnected consumers as expected. But it said UK Power Networks began reconnecting customers without being asked to by National Grid ESO, which could have potentially jeopardised recovery of the system (but did not in this event). UK Power Networks has recognised this technical breach, taken action to prevent any reoccurrence, and agreed to pay £1.5 million into the voluntary redress fund.

Ofgem said its investigation “raised questions about how the ESO’s management of the system is carried out”. These will be addressed as part of a planned review into the structure and governance of the ESO. Ofgem will consider a number of options for how the system operator is structured, governed and managed, and work closely with BEIS ahead of its position paper on system governance in 2020.

Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem executive director, said: “Our investigation has raised important questions about National Grid’s Electricity System Operator, which is why our review will look at the structure and governance of the company”.

The reguator noted that the biggest impact of the blackout was  on the rail network. The Office of Rail and Road found that software flaws on some trains caused extended delays for commuters.


Further reading

Simultaneous plant failures caused widespread power interruptions

BEIS and Ofgem order reports on Friday’s blackouts

Want to avoid blackouts? Buy an electric vehicle